PlayStation 4 dev kits ‘being handed out like candy’, Xbox One self-publishing ‘not black and white’

Developers speak out on next-gen indie matters.

PlayStation 4 developer kits cost about $2,500, according to “various development sources” speaking to Polygon.

Yesterday, Microsoft announced support for independent developer self-publishing. Rather than sell developers a separate dev kit, however, it will allow developers to turn their retail Xbox One into a dev kit. According to Polygon, developers must also pay a few hundred dollars as a fee to Microsoft.

Although a $2,500 price tag for the PlayStation 4 kit is being cited among developers, Polygon’s development sources all said Sony had lent them dev kits for a limited one-year period, free of charge. As of now, dev kits aren’t being sold.

“All the indies I know got them for free,” said one developer. “Sony has been amazing about kits and development thus far.”

Another developer said Sony is focused on loaning kits, rather than collecting fees. “They are handing them out like candy,” he said.

Additionally, Develop revealed Sony will begin hosting quarterly indie developer events at its London offices this year, which will be open to the entire development community.

Meanwhile, Brian Provinciano, developer of Retro City Rampage, told Engadget Microsoft’s shift in policy isn’t as black and white as it seems.

“I’m very happy to see this,” Provinciano said. “After all of the developers have spoken out, they’re finally listening. However, this is yet another example of them changing policy, but it sounding better than it is when the whole story is revealed.

“Make no mistake; while this is a great thing, it’s again not the equivalent to what other platforms offer. On PS4, for example, developers can tap right into the system; use every bit of RAM and all of its power. Indies have access to everything that the AAA studios do, from platform support to development and release.

“The indication on Xbox One is that it’s essentially [Xbox LIVE Indie Games] 2.0. Instead of XNA, it’s Windows 8. Windows 8, which is already struggling to gain developer interest, will gain a boost from developers wishing to target the console. However, it won’t be as full-fledged as published games on the system.”

Provinciano added that his bad experience porting Retro City Rampage to Xbox 360 led him to have no interest in purchasing an Xbox One, “let alone developing for it.”

“The policy changes are great, but they don’t undo the experience I had,” he said. “I’m not ready to forget what I went through. Working with Microsoft was the unhappiest point of my career. Policies are one thing, but developer relations are another.

“It’s important to me that consumers don’t see things as black and white. There are still strings attached to this policy change.”

Before officially announcing indie self-publishing, known NeoGAF insider CBOAT said Microsoft would allow indies only to self-publish on the Windows 8 store, and limit their RAM usage to three gigabytes. (Update: Microsoft’s Phil Spencer has said the “goal is to allow devs access to full pool of resources available, no indie RAM limit.”)

Microsoft is expected to further detail its indie policy at Gamescom next month.

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